NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Clues to Chilly Ancient Mars Buried in Rocks

Filled with briny lakes, the Quisquiro salt flat in South America’s Altiplano represents the kind of landscape that scientists think may have existed in Gale Crater on Mars. (Credits: Maksym Bocharov)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — By studying the chemical elements on Mars today — including carbon and oxygen — scientists can work backwards to piece together the history of a planet that once had the conditions necessary to support life.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Ready for Touchdown on Asteroid Bennu

During the sample collection event, Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) will guide NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to asteroid Bennu’s surface. The spacecraft takes real-time images of the asteroid’s surface features as it descends, and then compares these images with an onboard image catalog. The spacecraft then uses these geographical markers to orient itself and accurately target the touchdown site. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission is officially prepared for its long-awaited touchdown on asteroid Bennu’s surface. The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has targeted Oct. 20 for its first sample collection attempt.

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NASA to Make Announcement About WFIRST Mission Trump Keeps Trying to Cancel

Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a special edition of NASA Science Live at 11 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, May 20, to share an exciting announcement about the agency’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission. The episode will air live on NASA’s websiteNASA YouTubeNASA Facebook and Twitter/Periscope.

Members of the mission will respond to questions from the livestream chat in real time during the episode. Follow @NASA and @NASAWFIRST on Facebook and Twitter for additional information.

WFIRST is a space telescope that will conduct unprecedented large surveys of the infrared universe to explore everything from our solar system to the edge of the observable universe, including planets throughout our galaxy and the nature of dark energy.

WFIRST is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with participation by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the California Institute of Technology’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center in Pasadena, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and a science team comprising scientists from research institutions across the United States.

For more information about WFIRST, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/wfirst

NASA CubeSat Mission to Gather Vital Space Weather Data

Dione will gather data not collected since NASA’s dual-spacecraft Dynamics Explorer mission launched in the early 1980s. (Credits: NASA)

By Lori Keesey
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA has selected a new pathfinding CubeSat mission to gather data not collected since the agency flew the Dynamics Explorer in the early 1980s.

The new mission, called Dione after the ancient Greek goddess of the oracles, will carry four miniaturized instruments to study how Earth’s upper atmospheric layers react to the ever-changing flow of solar energy into the magnetosphere — the enveloping bubble of magnetic field around Earth that deflects most of the particles that erupt from the Sun.

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NASA to Demonstrate First-of-its-Kind In-Space Manufacturing Technique for Telescope Mirrors

A Goddard engineer won a flight opportunity to show that an advanced thin-film manufacturing technique called atomic layer deposition, or ALD, could apply wavelength-specific reflective coatings on a sample — the first time ALD has been tried in space. (Credits: NASA/W. Hrybyk)

By ​Lori Keesey
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Large telescopes that could be used for detecting and analyzing Earth-like planets in orbit around other stars or for peering back in time to observe the very early universe may not necessarily have to be built and assembled on the ground. In the future, NASA could construct them in space.

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A Tale of Two Telescopes: WFIRST and Hubble

This famous Hubble Ultra Deep Field image captured the cosmos in three different types of light: infrared, visible and ultraviolet. While WFIRST will be tuned to see infrared light exclusively, its much wider field of view will enable larger surveys that would take hundreds or even thousands of years for Hubble to complete. [Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz, M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University) and Z. Levay (STScI)]

by Ashley Balzer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), planned for launch in the mid-2020s, will create enormous cosmic panoramas. Using them, astronomers will explore everything from our solar system to the edge of the observable universe, including planets throughout our galaxy and the nature of dark energy.

Though it’s often compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, which turns 30 years old this week,  WFIRST  will study the cosmos in a unique and complementary way.

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NASA Scientists Tapped to Mature More Rugged Seismometer System to Measure Moonquakes

A next-generation seismometer could be deployed autonomously, unlike the systems deployed in the past. In this photo, Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean carries the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package to its deployment site on the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA hasn’t measured moonquakes since Apollo astronauts deployed a handful of measuring stations at various locations on the lunar surface and discovered unexpectedly that Earth’s only natural satellite was far from seismically inactive.

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NASA Awards NOAA’s Space Weather Follow On – Supra Thermal Ion Sensor

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — On behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA has awarded the Space Weather Follow On – Supra Thermal Ion Sensor contract to the Regents of the University of California, Berkeley.

This is a cost no-fee contract with a total value of $7,523,169. The period of performance is from the date of award through June 30, 2026. The work will be performed at University of California, Berkeley.

The principal purpose of this requirement within the Space Weather Follow On (SWFO) Project is to design, analyze, develop, fabricate, integrate, test, calibrate, evaluate and support launch and on-orbit check-out of the Supra Thermal Ion Sensor (STIS) instrument as part of the SWFO-L1 Observatory.

SWFO-L1 will provide NOAA with the continuity of solar wind data and coronal mass ejection imagery, the highest priority for space weather observations of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

The SWFO-L1 satellite, which is planned to launch in 2024 as a rideshare with the NASA Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe, will collect upstream solar wind data and coronal imagery to support NOAA’s mission to monitor and forecast space weather events.

NOAA is responsible for the Space Weather Follow-On program. NASA is the program’s flight system procurement agent, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the lead for this acquisition.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov

NASA’s Swift Mission Tallied Water From Interstellar Comet Borisov

NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory’s Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope captured six snapshots of Borisov as it traveled through the solar system. This GIF shows the UV images, with Borisov in the center. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

by Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — For the first time, NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory tracked water loss from an interstellar comet as it approached and rounded the Sun. The object, 2I/Borisov, traveled through the solar system in late 2019.

“Borisov doesn’t fit neatly into any class of solar system comets, but it also doesn’t stand out exceptionally from them,” said Zexi Xing, a graduate student at the University of Hong Kong and Auburn University in Alabama who led the research. “There are known comets that share at least one of its properties.”

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NASA CubeSat Will Shine a Laser Light on the Moon’s Darkest Craters

The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, will examine the moon’s surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — As astronauts explore the Moon during the Artemis program, they may need to make use of the resources that already exist on the lunar surface. Take water, for instance: Because it’s a heavy and therefore expensive resource to launch from Earth, our future explorers might have to seek out ice to mine. Once excavated, it can be melted and purified for drinking and used for rocket fuel. But how much water is there on the Moon, and where might we find it?

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Checkpoint Rehearsal From the Lens of NavCam 2

OSIRIS-REx approaches asteroid Bennu during rehearsal for sample return. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Captured on Apr. 14 during the first rehearsal of the OSIRIS-REx mission’s sample collection event, this series of images shows the navigation camera’s (NavCam 2) field of view as the NASA spacecraft approaches and moves away from asteroid Bennu’s surface.

The rehearsal brought the spacecraft through the first two maneuvers of the sampling sequence to a point approximately 213 feet (65 meters) above the surface, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn.

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Hubble Marks 30 Years in Space With Tapestry of Blazing Starbirth

A colorful image resembling a cosmic version of an undersea world teeming with stars is being released to commemorate the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30 years of viewing the wonders of space. In the Hubble portrait, the giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbor (NGC 2020) are part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located 163,000 light-years away. The image is nicknamed the “Cosmic Reef,” because NGC 2014 resembles part of a coral reef floating in a vast sea of stars. Some of the stars in NGC 2014 are monsters. The nebula’s sparkling centerpiece is a grouping of bright, hefty stars, each 10 to 20 times more massive than our Sun. The seemingly isolated blue nebula at lower left (NGC 2020) has been created by a solitary mammoth star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun. The blue gas was ejected by the star through a series of eruptive events during which it lost part of its outer envelope of material. (Credits: NASA, ESA and STScI)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA is celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30 years of unlocking the beauty and mystery of space by unveiling a stunning new portrait of a firestorm of starbirth in a neighboring galaxy.

In this Hubble portrait, the giant red nebula (NGC 2014) and its smaller blue neighbor (NGC 2020) are part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located 163,000 light-years away. The image is nicknamed the “Cosmic Reef,” because it resembles an undersea world.

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Checkpoint: OSIRIS-REx Practices Sample Collection

The Nightingale Crater on asteroid Bennu is the primary sample collection site for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx’s mission. The image is overlaid with a graphic of the spacecraft to illustrate the scale of the site. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In August, the robotic spacecraft will make NASA’s first-ever attempt to descend to the surface of an asteroid, collect a sample and ultimately bring it safely back to Earth.

In order to achieve this challenging feat, the mission team devised new techniques to operate in asteroid Bennu’s microgravity environment – but they still need experience flying the spacecraft in close proximity to the asteroid in order to test them.

So, before touching down at sample site Nightingale this summer, OSIRIS-REx will first rehearse the activities leading up to the event.

On Apr. 14, the mission will pursue its first practice run – officially known as “Checkpoint” rehearsal – which will also place the spacecraft the closest it’s ever been to Bennu. This rehearsal is a chance for the OSIRIS-REx team and spacecraft to test the first steps of the robotic sample collection event.

There will be a four-hour social media campaign on @OSIRISREx and @NASASolarSystem.

Rehearsal Time for NASA’s Asteroid Sampling Spacecraft

This artist’s concept shows the trajectory and configuration of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during Checkpoint rehearsal, which is the first time the mission will practice the initial steps for collecting a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credits: NASA/ Goddard/University of Arizona)

By Brittany Enos
University of Arizona

In August, a robotic spacecraft will make NASA’s first-ever attempt to descend to the surface of an asteroid, collect a sample, and ultimately bring it safely back to Earth. In order to achieve this challenging feat, the OSIRIS-REx mission team devised new techniques to operate in asteroid Bennu’s microgravity environment – but they still need experience flying the spacecraft in close proximity to the asteroid in order to test them. So, before touching down at sample site Nightingale this summer, OSIRIS-REx will first rehearse the activities leading up to the event.

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NASA Selects Mission to Study Causes of Giant Solar Particle Storms

In this image, taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on Feb. 27, 2000, a coronal mass ejection is seen erupting from the Sun, which is hidden by the disk in the middle, so the fainter material around it can be seen. (Credits: ESA/NASA/SOHO)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms – known as solar particle storms – into planetary space. Not only will such information improve understanding of how our solar system works, but it ultimately can help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.

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